Probate and Trust Administration
Many California residents assume that a Will can insure their assets are distributed as they wish once they are gone. Unfortunately, in many cases, a will is not enough to protect loved ones. If you want to be sure your estate is handled in the manner in which you choose, you should have a comprehensive estate plan that will enable your beneficiaries and family members to avoid the probate process following your death.
Probate is required in California for estates valued at more the $150,000 (unless you have done appropriate estate planning to avoid probate). The probate process allows the court to verify the validity of your Will, determine what liabilities must be paid from your estate, settles any claims against the estate, provides for the sale of property, and distributes the remainder of your estate to your heirs-at-law (if you have no Will) or to your beneficiaries (if you do have a Will). This process can take from seven to eighteen months or longer in California and it is very labor intensive. As the Attorney’s and administrator’s fees are governed by state law, the cost can be significant and will be paid before any other expenses or distribution can be made. The process can be ab difficult process for a family following the death of a loved one.
Even estates under $150,000 can benefit from the assistance of an attorney. If the estate contains any real property assets the court will have to be involved, but in a less intrusive, expedited process. Even sorting out the disposition of community property assets may require legal assistance.
Creation of a trust and the properly titling of your banking, investment and retirement account before you death can help your loved ones avoid the probate process and can lead to the settlement of your estate in a timely, cost-effective manner. While trust administration is usually not as complicated as the administration of a probate case, there are still administrative tasks that must be accomplished in accordance with the law, so every trustee should consult with an attorney at the outset of their administration of a trust.
Working with an attorney will allow your loved ones to focus on and deal with their grief
and allow them to move on with their lives when your estate has been promptly settled.
To create a legal trust to avoid the probate process, or to deal with the disposition of assets after your death your loved ones will need the assistance of an experienced, probate and estate planning attorney. I have been helping residents of California create strong estate plans and deal with the disposition of assets after a death for many years and can assist you with your affairs.
To learn more about how to deal with a probate situation or to administer a trust after the death of a loved one, or to schedule a consultation to discuss creating a trust or reviewing other options available to plan and estate, contact me at 707.263.5759.